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Dear Mr Thornhill,

If you remember, we exchanged correspondence late last year (started about your article suggesting that Bush was really French), and that ultimately led to an article of mine on European energy policy being published in the FT Op-Ed pages. So I hope that you will take this new letter in such a context - whereby I'm quite grateful for your willingess to listen to your readers and to give me in particular a chance to speak up in your columns.

I a mwriting this time because I have a lot of comments to make to your article published today about France ("Why France may find its social model exacts too high a price"). In addition to the request (which I copied you in)to the FT editors for corrections on a couple of factual errors for which I am not sure who is to blame, I'd like to flag a number of other facts - all drawn from the pages of the Financial Times - that give a pretty different perspective on the French economy. I've made a fairly detailed commentary of your article on my website, the European Tribune (see here:
http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2007/4/15/182027/868), but I'd like to just flag out just one item, about the supposed relative decline of French GDP per capita.

As you know, and as the FT, to its credit, regularly writes about, GDP growth in the US and the UK has been accompanied by increasing inequality and stagnant income for the middle classes:

[insert top 0.1% graph]

Thus economic performance for most people is quite similar in France as in the UK - except that actually the poor are less poor, and in particular poor kids are not so numerous (as a recent UNICEF study showed). That would seem to be an acceptable result for the price of not letting the very rich getting even more extravagantly rich.

The fact that the French economic model is systematically described as a failure, when it simply focuses more - and more effectively - on social cohesion can be seen as a very ideological attempt to justify a new class war by a very small (but very rich) elite which controls a high portion of global capital and sees workers, especially middle calss ones, as an expensive cost item on their balance sheet - and France, which shows that a different way of doing things is possible, as the biggest obstacle to the triumph of their (shortsighted) ideas.

We are all soaked on a permanent basis by gloomy, or even catastrophist descriptions of the French economy, but the statistics in the very pages of your own paper can lead to very different conclusions, if one chooses to do so. I wonder why that choice is so rarely made (the choice to worry about lack of healthcare coverage instead of the fact that 'too few' seniors work), and I would hope that voices carrying that choice could be heard more frequently in the FT.

Sincerely Yours, etc...



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 06:41:04 AM EST

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